Sunday, January 6, 2013

#49 Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard

Discovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own BackyardDiscovering Moths: Nighttime Jewels in Your Own Backyard by John Himmelman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are a beginning or experienced naturalist who wants to start observing moths, this book is the place to start.

If you think that moths aren't worth observing, or that they are scary, or that they are pests, well, then you should also read this book to learn the truth about moths. Consider:

What happens at night when you go to bed? All about you, under cover of darkness, flowers that you have never seen open. Moths that you have never imagined stir from their hiding places and take flight. Some are tiny, others quite large. The moths visit the flowers, drawing nourishment from them. In turn, the flowers are pollinated by the moths, so that they may produce seeds, and a whole new generation of flowers. A good deal of the plants that need pollination are pollinated by moths. Our world: a better place because of moths. And what do they ask from us? Some habitat, a few wild little niches in our backyards and our public spaces; perhaps some clean air; a nighttime not too cluttered with light pollution.

So think about it next time you go to bed. The moths are arising to remake your world.

Anyway, on to the book. Well written prose giving a good general introduction to the world of moths and mothers (that's moth-ers, moth enthusiasts). Himmelman has also included black and white illustrations throughout the text. These are technical pen drawings of many moths and caterpillars. Contrary to the tradition with technical ink drawings, Himmelman has added an artistic flair to many of them. For instance, he may have a moth illustrated perched on a tree, but in the distance the moon is also visible shining down on the moth. At first this bothered me a little: just didn't seem to fit. Now, however, I'm happy with it. Himmelman really is a first-rate illustrator.

Oh yeah, and those bug zappers (remember those?): if you have one, please don't use it. They don't kill mosquitoes. They kill moths.

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